Paying for OT School: 6 Financial Tips to Get You Through
Although the whole graduate school thing can certainly be expensive, paying for OT school is not as scary as it may initially seem thanks to student loans and other supplemental options.
If you’re interested in the amazing profession of occupational therapy but are concerned about coming up with the funds, here are some quick tips to put your mind at ease.
1. Fill Out Your FAFSA
Although the idea of making it through grad-school debt-free is very alluring, for most people it’s just not a reasonable option.
And although it is important to be smart about your accumulating loans, as well as aware of the fact that they will have to be repaid one day… you should not feel bad in any way for utilizing them during this time.
Loans are a part of life for most students. Be smart about them and do what you can to minimize the amount that you borrow.
If you aren’t aware of how to start the process, call or email your school’s financial aid office. You can also start by checking out the FAFSA website to learn about the student loan process.
2. Buy Used Textbooks
Buying used books online is the best route to go when it comes to textbooks. And most of the time, those recycled texts are still in great condition!
Many online college bookstores will show you the price of a new book, a used book from their store, as well as the prices of used books when purchased from other websites. If this is the case for your school, it makes the process very easy. If not, check out Amazon and Chegg for some cheaper used options.
Pro Tip: Check with students from the class ahead of you. Quite often, they’ll be willing to pass on their hand-me-down books at a great price.
Although buying textbooks might seem minor when compared to your tuition bill, every penny counts when you’re trying to save during grad school. Getting the best deal possible on your textbooks can help you a lot in the long run.
3. Consider Hybrid Programs
Hybrid OT graduate programs are becoming more and more common.
By choosing a hybrid option, you will open up a lot of time to continue working (even full time if you’re ambitious) while you make your way through school. These non-traditional options include slightly extended durations and more online schooling. With these programs, students will attend in-person class at most just several days a week, or one to two weekends per month depending on the program.
Although there are certainly pros and cons to hybrid graduate programs, it is at least worth considering if you are worried about your finances and need to be able to work.
To find out more about accredited hybrid OT schools, you can check out AOTA’s list here.
4. Apply for Scholarships!
Although scholarships can be intimidating, they are your friend! Especially during graduate school. And they do exist for OT students. Sitting down and at least checking out this list of options is most definitely worth your time. For a list of OT scholarships, be sure to check out our list of 10 Occupational Therapy Scholarships to Help Pay for Grad School.
5. Pick up a Part-Time Caregiver or Nanny Position
Finding a job that goes along with what you are learning can help you to apply your knowledge and work on building up that ‘OT brain’ of yours. Caregiver and/or nannying positions can be beneficial to your learning and are often pretty flexible! Finding a gig for the weekend or a couple week nights is definitely doable during your program.
Try signing up for Care.com or even checking with your advisors. Quite often individuals in the community will reach out to professors at OT programs requesting healthcare students for these positions.
6. Join your Student Occupational Therapy Association
This one will not technically put money in your pocket. However, it does have its perks (and will look great on your resume after you graduate). Students who are active SOTA members are often provided with funding to attend conferences during the school year, which can be costly if you don’t have the financial assistance.
We hope this article has eased your mind a little and given you some ideas on how to manage the cost of OT school. If you’re still feeling uneasy, try talking with an advisor from your college of interest.
Although the cost of grad school is intimidating, it is not impossible to manage and most definitely worth every penny if occupational therapy is something that you are passionate about.
We’d love to know if you have any other helpful paying for OT school tips, so be sure to leave them in the comments below!